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Mariposan's Tie To Aaron Copland

MARIPOSA – Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990) is considered nearly without question to be the greatest American composer of “classical” music who ever lived.

The legendary composer of Rodeo, Billy the Kid, Appalachian Spring, A Lincoln Portrait, Fanfare for the Common Man and so many other iconic pieces of music created a unique American musical “sound” that is universally recognizable even to those who may feel they don’t know a thing about “classical” music.

But Copland was also a conductor, performer, lecturer, writer and especially meaningful to one county resident: a teacher.Mariposa’s Pamela Vanderveer is keyboardist for the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra and a well-known local musician. As the MSO prepares to offer two of Copland’s most famous works of music at the orchestra’s July 6th “Independence Day Spectacular!” Concert, Vanderveer shares an account of her own brief artistic relationship with Aaron Copland:

“I was attending Cal Arts for one semester only. It was Aaron Copland’s 80th birthday year, and he was in residence at Cal Arts. Since I was working on one of his (piano) pieces, Passacaglia, I was allowed to have an open lesson with him. I played for him, and he gave me tips for playing his piece. The comment from him, that I remember the most, was “I think you need to practice a little more on this.” He was right.

Pamela Vanderveer turning pages for Copland in concert as he accompanies a performance of his Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson - photo courtesy MSO“He was scheduled to play for a soprano, who was singing his “Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson”, at the Bing Theatre in Beverly Hills. He was staying at the dorm, while in residence at Cal Arts. I just happened to be there in the evening, and my friend was in charge of going to the dorm to walk Aaron over to the school room where he would rehearse with the soprano. He let me walk with them.

“I was thrilled! Just to be in the same elevator with him. When we got over to the room, Aaron said, ‘I will need a page turner.’ So, I practically knocked him over volunteering to turn pages for him.

“I was fortunate to rehearse several times with Aaron and the soprano, and was also at the performance on stage with him. It was wonderful! He was such a beautiful man, nice, gentle, and sweet to me. I already loved him, but after that, he would forever be my favorite composer, for life!”

Fully detailed information about the MSO’s 7 p.m. July 6th Concert at the is now available by visiting the Mariposa County Arts Council’s web pages: http://tinyurl.com/MariposaSO

Among many patriotic American works, MSO Founder/Conductor Les Marsden has programmed Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and his A Lincoln Portrait, featuring (as narrator) Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson, perhaps best known for his featured role in the Ken Burns documentary “National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

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